Documentary project Searching for the Tassie Tiger has been named as the winner of the annual pitching competition Pitch Australiana held at the Australian International Documentary Conference in March.
The creators will receive $50,000 in production funding from Screen Australia and youth media company VICE for a short form documentary commission to be released through VICE’s global digital network, including SBS VICELAND.
The winning project Searching for the Tassie Tiger will be directed by Naomi Ball and produced by David Elliot-Jones and Louis Dai. It will explore new evidence and a growing civilian movement that are challenging the long-held belief that Tasmanian tigers are extinct.
Director Naomi Ball said, “We’re thrilled that VICE and Screen Australia have made it possible for this story to become part of the Australiana canon. Searching for the Tassie Tiger will be an absorbing adventure through remote and rugged landscapes led by Australia’s most dedicated tiger believers. Within the trail cam footage and beneath the scat samples, we’ll be looking not only for this ancient marsupial beast, but also for the hope we all need, as we face up to our destruction of the environment.”
Pitch Australiana is an annual competition that provides early career Australian filmmakers an opportunity to collaborate with VICE in telling a story that has been overlooked by mainstream media.
Head of Documentary at Screen Australia Bernadine Lim said, “Naomi Ball and David Elliot-Jones’ pitch at this year’s competition really stood out to us. Whilst the mystery around the Tassie tiger knows no bounds, their promise of a special insight into the grassroots community of Tassie tiger believers with great characters was very compelling. I look forward to seeing this project on VICE.”
Jess Langley, Executive Producer at VICE, said “We’re thrilled to work with Naomi and David to bring Searching for the Tassie Tiger to VICE’s audiences. It’s sure to be met with enthusiasm both locally and internationally.”
The documentary will follow Neil Waters, a middle-aged gardener in remote north-east Tasmania, as he quits his day job and commits his life’s savings to search for the ancient beast. Waters is the impassioned creator of the ‘Thylacine Awareness Group of Australia’ Facebook page which is leading an Australia-wide grassroots effort to rediscover the tiger.